The best laptops and tablets for drawing make it easier to create and fine-tune your digital art
Tablets and laptops for artists are geared around two key factors: performance and workflow. Running the best drawing software and graphic design software can be resource-intensive, so like the best laptops for graphic design, drawing tablets and laptops need serious power. They also need to streamline creative processes, with vivid, high-resolution screens that bring every digital detail to life.
To help you find the right portable, we’ve tested the best laptops for drawing and the best tablets for digital art. As part of a rigorous testing process, we’ve examined every spec from portability and performance to screen quality and battery life. And with an eye on value for money, our picks include Windows, Android, and Apple tablets and laptops for artists across a range of budgets.
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The best laptops and tablets for drawing in 2023
This computer attempts to bridge the gap between a laptop and a tablet, by being either, whenever you need to. On the surface, it looks like a sleek traditional portable computer, but you can flip the screen entirely back, and use it as a touchscreen enabled tablet-like device.
The biggest upgrade on the HP Spectre x360 (2021) over the previous model are its components and performance, with the laptop being a showcase for Intel’s latest mobile processors. Overall, as a result of the new CPU, along with a hefty 16GB of RAM, this machine is a great little performer, with Windows 10 feeling fast and responsive. Multi-tasking, with numerous apps open at once, alongside plenty of Edge tabs too, didn’t really slow down its performance, either.
One of the biggest quality of life improvements Intel is pushing with its Intel Evo platform is long battery life, and the HP Spectre x360 doesn’t disappoint here. It lasted an excellent 11 hours and 22 minutes in our own battery life test, which loops a 1080p video file at 50% brightness until the battery dies.
Overall it’s a great and powerful portable machine, albeit pricey, which will do whatever you need it to.
Read our full HP Spectre x360 (2021) review
This Dell’s 4K display is simply incredible. Dell sent us the 4K touch version, and while the OLED Dell XPS 13 is still better – it is OLED after all – this is still one of the best laptop displays we've used, and it’s excellent for media work
Because this laptop is packed with an 11th-generation Intel Core processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, it probably shouldn't be super surprising that it absolutely chews through most workloads.
Where this laptop really shines though, is in creative workloads, where that 4K display can really shine. Whether you're working in Adobe Premiere, Photoshop or Blender, you're going to save more time on this laptop than with the latest MacBook Pro, and that's largely thanks to the CUDA cores in the RTX 3060 here.
Combine the powerful discrete graphics with the RAM and the powerful, high-wattage H-series processor and this is a laptop you can use to edit video in 4K on the road without making it a total exercise in frustration.
The only major downside to this laptop for drawing & artwork is that all this power and performance comes at a price, but you do get what you pay for.
Read our full Dell XPS 17 (2021) review
Typically, 2-in-1 laptops have a 16:9 aspect ratio, which means they're nearly twice as long as they are wide. That can make them feel cramped when drawing on them. Not so with the Spin 5: its 3:2 ratio is absolutely fantastic in that regard.
The included stylus is small and can feel a bit flimsy, but since it's got its own charging and housing port on the side of the laptop, it's much less likely to get lost or broken than those shipped with other 2-in-1s.
Arguably one of the stylus’ most useful features, should it run out of power, is the ultra-fast charging system: just plug it back into the laptop for around 15-20 seconds, and you’ll get about 90 minutes' worth of charge.
The Spin 5 doesn't look like it’s going to be as powerful as it actually is. Squeezed into its slender chassis is the latest Intel Ice Lake mobile processors with Intel's new Iris Plus integrated GPU, which does a respectable job for integrated graphics.
As for multitasking, the Spin 5 is a champ. These processors chew through all but the most demanding apps without breaking a sweat. What's more, the 16GB of RAM are going to make memory-hungry apps like Adobe Photoshop much more manageable.
Read our full Acer Spin 5 review
The iPad Pro 2021 12.9-inch tablet isn’t for everyone. The biggest caveats are that it’s incredibly expensive, and that it’s an overwhelmingly large device for those who don’t need a screen this big (although few artists will be complaining about a well-sized digital canvas).
The new Liquid Retina XDR Mini LED display is gorgeous, with max brightness levels unseen on other tablets – this slate can compete with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, which felt like a major upgrade for tablet screens only recently. The screen is one of the best for watching movies on, and it'll also suit you well for everyday tasks.
Much has been made of Apple’s M1 chipset, and this is the first time the company has included its new, desktop-power silicon in an iPad. Do you absolutely need it? Probably not, but if you want some truly impressive power that blows every other tablet out of the water, again the latest iPad Pro is a great choice.
You likely won’t appreciate having this much power on tap unless you’re intensively gaming, using power-hungry design apps, or pushing the tablet to its multi-tasking limits. It will load apps faster than before, but in most cases the differences are only noticeable to the average user when powering up the App Store’s most intensive experiences.
Battery life is solid – in our testing we found that the tablet would last for around 10 hours on a full charge. Your mileage will of course vary depending on what you’re doing, but this is great battery performance that no creator should be disappointed by.
Read our full iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) review
With a device that's meant to be as portable as the Surface Pro 8, performance is always a difficult balance to strike. You want it to be fast, but you don't want to push it so hard that battery life goes down the toilet and it becomes too hot to handle.
Using Cinebench R15 - a test we've retired and replaced with Cinebench R23 - the Surface Pro 8 is nearly 50% faster than the Surface Pro 7, which is a pretty incredible generational increase. The difference isn't as stark in GeekBench 4, but it's still noticeably faster.
What's more impressive, though, is how the Surface Pro 8 fares against its big sibling, the Surface Laptop Studio. The tablet is just 12% slower than Microsoft's so-called creative workstation in Cinebench, and just 5% slower in GeekBench. This is all in spite of the fact that the Surface Pro 8 is half as thick as the Laptop Studio and nearly half the weight, making it a fantastic and powerful tablet for its size.
Testing the Surface Pro 8 battery life using PCMark 10, we managed to get 8 hours and 15 minutes out of it, making this a device you can totally use to work all day without needing a charger. If you're an artist, the Surface Pro 8 is just as good as ever for illustrators, graphic artists and more, especially if you pair it with the Surface Pen. This is an essential device for any artist on the go.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review
Best laptops and tablets for drawing and digital art: FAQs
How to choose the best laptops and tablets for drawing and artwork for you
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The best laptops and tablets for drawing and artwork offer a lag-free creative experience to users. You’ll want to pick a device based on your content creation requirements.
If you plan to use graphics intensive apps for your creative work, look for a laptop with a powerful GPU and CPU, with plenty of RAM. For those who’re often on the road, long battery life and high screen brightness are crucial. Make sure to assess the device’s weight and size if you want a light and portable carrying experience.
Also, if you have additional devices to connect, check whether the laptop offers the right type of connectivity options for you.
How we test the best laptops and tablets for drawing and digital art
We've tested hardware built for a range of industries and professions. This includes laptops for video editing, laptops for photographers, and laptops for writers.
To select the best tablets and laptops for artists, we took into account their performance, portability, storage, and screen size and quality.
We looked at their CPU and RAM and how well they handled different graphic-intensive applications, like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. We evaluated their battery life while running different types of applications, like video players, web browsers, and so on.
Along with creative apps, we checked how well the laptops ran games - the best gaming laptops possess most specs you'll need to flawlessly run drawing software. We also assessed the sound quality of the speakers in all graphics tablets, and whether the drawing tablet or laptop included accessories like a stylus or true drawing screen, among other aspects.
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